With Iran’s top military official warning Pakistan of reprisals for sheltering Sunni militias attacking targets in Iran, three of Islamabad’s neighbours have accused it of cross-border terrorism. Iran’s warning that it might be considering its version of “surgical strikes” comes after 10 of its border guards were killed by a group identified as Jaish-al-Adl which Tehran believes is sheltered in Pakistan.
Sunni groups operating from Pakistan believe Shia-majority Iran does not conform to Islam and is a fair target for violence.
Iran has echoed the charge frequently levelled by Afghanistan and India. Successive Afghan regimes have held Pakistan responsible for the resurgence of Taliban which has attacked development projects, kidnapped foreign nationals and sought to impose hardline Islam in its territory.
Pakistan’s sponsorship of Taliban is intended to ensure its control on territory in Afghanistan and is also a measure to pressure the incumbent government. It is also part of its ‘strategic depth’ doctrine, based on a calculation that Afghanistan must remain a subservient backyard.
The doctrine is linked to Pakistan’s India strategy where its army and ISI arm and despatch terrorists for terrorist strikes in J&K and the rest of India. A dense network of “friendly” jihadi organisations operate in Pakistan and Afghanistan and train fighters for assignments in India. India has accused Pakistan of encouraging and sponsoring terrorist organisations like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad as well as Hizbul Mujahideen who are responsible for terror attacks on Indian civilian and military targets.
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